Defence Practice Areas are public safety exclusion zones located over the Evans Head Air Weapons Range and its adjacent waters to protect the public.
Precision targeting is the goal of the Air Force training, but public safety is of primary importance. The public safety exclusion zones are enforced to protect the public in the unlikely event of weapon system malfunction.
It is very dangerous to be on land at any time, or on the water inside the Defence Practice Area public safety exclusion zones when aircraft are using the range for bombing or air-to-ground gunnery.
Defence personnel have the authority to direct people and vessels to move out of the Defence Practice Area public safety exclusion zones when the weapons range is in use. Penalties apply for refusing to comply with the directions of range staff or civilian police who may assist them. Offenders can be fined or even arrested.
You can check the range schedule on this website, or call Defence Range Control on (02) 6682 4740.
Defence will operate a ‘red flag’ system whereby red flags will be erected at the northern and southern boundary of the weapons range when in use. There is signage at eight local boat ramps from Yamba to Ballina depicting a diagram of the public safety exclusion zones.
There are two public safety exclusion zones; one in the south of the weapons range for air-to-ground gunnery activities and one in the north for bombing activities. Air Force will only activate the Defence Practice Area public safety exclusion zones when it is required to support a specific activity.
The Southern Defence Practice Area will be used for air-to-ground gunnery activities and is the same area the F-111 aircraft used for their air-to-ground gunnery activities in the 1980s. The gunnery targets are on land, but for safety reasons during this training the public safety exclusion zone extends out to sea by approximately 10 kilometres. This fan shaped area is approximately 55 square kilometres of which about 5 square kilometres is over land and approximately 50 square kilometres is over water. It incorporates the popular local fishing reef (South Evans Reef). It is shown as a blue outline on the Evans Head Air Weapons Range Map.
The GPS co-ordinates for the southern Defence Practice Area boundary are:
|Evans Head Southern DPA overwater area|
|Northern landfall position||29° 11' 32" S||153° 24' 27" E|
|Water position 1||29° 12' 56" S||153° 29' 49" E|
|Water position 2||29° 14' 46" S||153° 29' 18" E|
|Water position 3||29° 16' 44" S||153° 27' 04" E|
|Water position 4||29° 17' 10" S||153° 25' 00" E|
|Southern landfall position||29° 12' 42" S||153° 23' 39" E|
The southern Defence Practice Area will also be included in Australian Notices to Mariners Edition 17 (23 August 2013) to update navigational products paper chart Aus 813 (Clarence River to Point Danger) and electronic navigational chart AU430153.
|Evans Head AWR Northern DPA overwater area|
|Northern landfall position||29°08' 25.13" S||153° 27' 15.9" E|
|Water position 1||29° 13' 00 " S||153° 24' 45" E|
|Southern landfall position||29° 12' 57.36" S||153° 23' 30.48" E|
The Northern Defence Practice Area will be used for inert bombing activities. The Northern Defence Practice Area public safety exclusion zone is similar to the previous F-111 bombing public safety exclusion zone. It is of a similar size, but is a different shape. The bombing targets and most of the danger area of the Northern Defence Practice Area is on land, but for safety reasons the public safety exclusion zone will extend out to sea but only by approximately 1500m along the coastline. The bombing targets and bomb scoring system are refurbished. The Northern Defence Practice Area will not include the popular local fishing reef (South Evans Reef). It is shown as a red outline on the Evans Head Air Weapons Range Map.
Please remember, there is unexploded ordnance on Evans Head Air Weapons Range. Some of the unexploded ordnance dates back to the 1940s. A range clearing activity was conducted on the range in 2018-2019 which has removed most of the ordnance on the range and environs. However, it is possible that some remain. The exact quantity and location of all the unexploded ordnance is not known. It is not safe to enter the land area of the Evans Head Air Weapons Range at any time.